Water Balloon Exploding at 2,000 Frames per Second

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Global Geopolitics: A New Stanford Course on iTunes

Today we're highlighting for you a new course posted on Stanford University's iTunes site. Originally presented by Stanford Continuing Studies (where I happily spend my days), Global Geopolitics is taught by geography expert Martin Lewis, and "examines the global political situation from a geographical perspective. Topics include: how the countries of the world were formed and came to occupy their present territorial configurations; border conflicts and other spatially based international issues; struggles for secession from established states and movements for territorially based autonomy; and the development and enlargement of supranational organizations such as the European Union (EU) and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). While the course is globally comprehensive, special attention will be given to current sites of geo-political tension. Maps will be used extensively for both descriptive and analytical purposes."

[NOTE: This is an enchanced podcast that allows you to see images and maps referenced in the lectures. To view them, click on View, then Show Artwork, in iTunes. This will let you see them on your computer.]

You can now download the first lecture. Additional lectures will be released in weekly installments. The course is also listed in our collection of Free Online Courses from top universities.

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Free Digital Fiction from Penguin

Penguin is presenting six stories, by six authors, over six weeks, in a series called We Tell Stories. And they're using the web to tell these stories in original ways. One story, The 21 Steps, gets told over Google Maps -- an approach that scores points for creativity, but also tires a little quickly. You can access all six stories here. Also check out our extensive collection of free audiobooks here.

via BoingBoing

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Learn Moviemaking From a Master (Courtesy of Apple)

The folks at Apple have rolled out an intriguing new podcast that takes you inside the world of moviemaking. The Set to Screen Series (get it on iTunes here) follows Baz Luhrmann, the Oscar-nominated director (Moulin Rouge! and William Shakespeare’s Romeo+Juliet) as he works on a new film. And every three weeks, from now through October, a new video podcast will be released that shows you how films get made. On-set still photography, costume design, cinematography, scoring -- it all gets covered here. And yes, of course, this podcast is all in video. You can get more info on this project here.

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Edgar Allan Poe’s Raven Read by 18 YouTubers (or Christopher Walken)

Can you bear it? If not, here's a version by Christopher Walken.

(This video has not been added to our YouTube playlist.)

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The Automated Publishing House

The New York Times has a great article on a professor of management science who has founded an almost completely automated publishing company. The 200,000 books he's published sound, well, terrible, and terribly overpriced: "Among the books published under his name are 'The Official Patient’s Sourcebook on Acne Rosacea' ($24.95 and 168 pages long); 'Stickler Syndrome: A Bibliography and Dictionary for Physicians, Patients and Genome Researchers' ($28.95 for 126 pages); and 'The 2007-2012 Outlook for Tufted Washable Scatter Rugs, Bathmats and Sets That Measure 6-Feet by 9-Feet or Smaller in India' ($495 for 144 pages)."

But Philip M. Parker, the man behind them, is nothing if not ambitious. He's also programming his machines to generate language-learning crosswords (i.e. clues in one language, answers in another), acrostic poetry, and even scripts for game shows and videogames. All of this reminds me of a novel by Neal Stephenson, The Diamond Age. In it, engineers of the future design a sort of artificially intelligent primer for young girls--the book generates stories and lessons on the fly. Maybe Parker's read this one before.

MIT’s (Free) Introduction to Physics

Welcome to MIT. Here's your introduction to Physics.

Today, we present Physics I: Classical Mechanics, a freshman course taught by Walter Lewin, the popular physics professor who was recently written up in The New York Times. The course covers the foundations of modern physics, which takes you from Isaac Newton's groundbreaking work to supernovas, and which covers such other topics as Fluid Mechanics, Kinetic Gas Theory, Binary Stars, Neutron Stars, Black Holes, Resonance Phenomena, Musical Instruments, and Stellar Collapse.

You can download the course lectures in video via iTunes or in various formats here. (The course is also listed in our collection of Free Online Courses from Great Universities, which now contains over 200 free courses.) For more lecture series by Walter Lewin, look here (Electricity and Magnetism) and here (Vibrations and Waves).

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